Withholding Information on Marketing Materials: Advantages and Disadvantages
Vol. 13 No. 5
As an Admission Officer, your mission is to form relationships with prospective families, which you can't do until they first contact your school. One of the ways in which you can entice families to call the office is to exclude important information from print materials and the website. This technique can certainly work, but some schools believe in a policy of transparency, maintaining that building trust with future parents is more important than providing an excuse for the initial contact.
Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to withholding information from marketing materials, so let’s break down some of the nitty-gritty details.
Parents want to know the numbers. That includes tuition, fees, and statistics like average class size or current students’ SAT scores. As we mentioned previously, leaving these numbers off of your website or printed materials can prompt parents to reach out for the information. If you follow this train of thought, you’d need to make sure the answers to the most expected questions are immediately available for everyone in the office—and that they’re up to date.
Numbers aren’t static, either. The instant you publish something with one set of numbers, you add half a dozen caveats that tuition is “subject to change” and that the average class size reflects only the “2013-2014 academic year.” By keeping that information in-house, you make sure that misinformation isn’t spread unintentionally.
Plus, by keeping numbers and dates off various publications, you’ll increase the shelf life of printed marketing materials. Instead of printing updated packets and brochures every year, you could get away with reprinting only every other year.
The biggest hit your school might take for withholding information from publicly available materials is that lack of transparency parents will perceive. By not making certain statistics public knowledge, you could invite the following questions from prospective parents:
- “If I have to ask how much the school costs, will it be too expensive?”
- “If they’re hiding this information, what else could they be covering up from families?” (—leading families to ask questions you really don't want to answer)
- “Does this school even know the information? This reeks of disorganization.”
Parents may decide to visit another school, whose information is more readily available and doesn’t require extra legwork to track down.
How much information does your school provide for prospective parents? We'd love to hear where your school falls on the information dissemination spectrum.
Additional ISM resources:
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 12 No. 6 Sink or Swim: Making Your Wait Pool Tolerable
ISM Monthly Update for Admission Officers Vol. 12 No. 10 Emotional "Banking": Evaluating Unfit Applicants
Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 29 No. 2 Full Disclosure of Non-Tuition Expectations During Admission